Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) and patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) saw a milestone in 2015: Boston Scientific’s WATCHMAN™ was approved by the FDA, and CV service lines in the United States began offering patients an alternative to blood thinning drugs to manage these patients’ stroke risk.
As a new therapy, there are many aspects of establishing a successful LAAC program that warrant the engagement of a coordinator. These include:
- Registered Nurse
- 4-year bachelor’s degree
- Cardiology background
- Customer-service orientation (the LAAC coordinator spends a great amount of time with patients and referring physicians)
- Experienced multi-tasker
- Good prioritization skills
- Strong critical thinking skills
1. Gather input from peers and other
CV service line administrators
“I think it helps when you get a couple of flavors of how people do it. These coordinator jobs are different from hospital to hospital.”
2. Take the time to find the right person
“You want to make sure to get someone with experience in cardiology and in complex patient care. There’s so much to learn, so get an RN who is highly seasoned.”
3. Support them
“You have to give that person both administrative and physician support. It’s a difficult job and you want that person to succeed.”
- Start with your strategic plan and estimate how much growth in LAAC you can expect
- Lay out how many hours are needed based on all the requirements for LAAC. Define what percentage of an FTE (full-time employee) the LAAC coordinator role will require
- Call out that the LAAC coordinator is a specialized role, and show that it is not something that you already have with your existing staff
- Be sure to demonstrate the financial case. Show the ROI based on the investment, plus the additional potential for increased referrals
- Emphasize the potential of the LAAC coordinator to expedite care, impact outcomes, smooth over pain-points, and increase patient satisfaction
“Upper management wants to see how you’re going to create growth.”
- Ruth Fisher
Vice President of Heart and Vascular Services
Henry Ford Health Systems
At the Henry Ford Health System, the LAAC coordinator is the “center of the wheel” and has had an impact on the larger medical team.
LAAC requires teamwork between the imager, implanter, referring physician, and the entire cath lab team. A good LAAC coordinator improves teamwork among all stakeholders, increases the level of comfort among different disciplines, and helps create faster facilitation.
The LAAC coordinator is a role that involves a great amount of patient contact and management. Ruth has seen the LAAC coordinator make a major impact on the patient experience. In one particular case, the patient took the time to express their gratitude:
“We had an 80-year-old patient who had the procedure and now his wife says he won’t’ stay home because of his active golf schedule. That's the kind of feedback we love to hear!"
By Tara Mudd, MSN, APRN, NP-C, Watchman Coordinator
A case study describing LAAC impact, created by an LAAC coordinator at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky.
Find information about starting an LAAC program, patient selection tools, clinical data, and reimbursement resources.
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